Review: Moss (PlayStation 4)

Moss: Official GBAtemp Review

PlayStation 4 3,125 views 5 likes 4 comments
Reviewed by Shaun James, posted Apr 10, 2018
Review code provided by Polyarc
Apr 10, 2018
  • Release Date (NA): February 27, 2018
  • Release Date (EU): February 27, 2018
  • Publisher: Polyarc
  • Developer: Polyarc
  • Genres: Adventure, Platform, Puzzle
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone
  • PEGI Rating: Seven years and older
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
With virtual reality often being a showcase for what's possible in the medium as developers strive to out-do each other in the race to fulfilling the fantasies of every 90's child - the real challenge can be bringing over existing genres in a way that makes sense within VR.
Shaun James

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Sylvanian Familiarities

Developer Polyarc have brought the platform adventure game to the PlayStation VR with Moss - a captivating and charming game that sees you controlling Quill, a small mouse through a story book world from a 3rd person perspective as 'the reader'. You will not only control Quill using traditional platform game controls but also interact with the environment around you - assisting Quill along the way.

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A linear game by design, Moss mixes the platform adventure game with light puzzle elements. The game is presented via a narrator, complete with voice changes for each character, who reads the story as you turn the pages. The story while basic and a somewhat reverse take on the captured princess trope, is entertaining enough and saved by the world building that develops.

Each chapter of Moss will see you navigating Quill through a series of interconnected areas, presented in individual segments like stages that evoke the quaint wonder of a picture perfect Victorian dolls house or an immaculate toy shop window display. You will view these from a stationary third person position as 'the reader'; a character that feels just as much a part of the story as the tiny main protagonist. As you progress through the game, the pages turn and the story continues, just as when you die, you hear the page flip back as the screen fades to black for another attempt.

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Moss is beautifully presented and perhaps the best looking PlayStation VR game to date. With just a turn of your head you can peak around and investigate each area as close as you like - and you will want to. Not just to help Quill navigate around and not just for the hidden collectibles tucked in clever nooks but because each area is immaculately detailed and conjure up the atmosphere of this storybook world through their lovingly crafted and ambiance rich design.

Mouseketeer

As you make your way through the world of Moss, you will experience areas with a sense of scale unlike a traditional 2D game. Levels range from cozy, confined rooms to caverns and castles with a grand sense of scale. From the deep enchanting forests, foggy soulless beaches to the ruined homes of the worlds inhabitants; the sense of place and world building is wonderfully executed. From the visuals to the sound design, nothing feels disjointed. You almost feel as you can reach out and touch the world as the 3D depth is very well done and the visual clarity is some of the cleanest on the platform.

Teamwork is key in Moss and through your looming position as 'the reader' just moving Quill is not enough as you will need to carefully study each level, working out the depth of the stage, passageways hidden behind the foreground and other objects and distances between platforms. However, if you do happen to get stuck on a puzzle, Quill will eventually lend a hand as she grabs your attention and through a series of gestures and squeaks will provide the hint you may need to work it out. Complete a difficult room and she will give you a thumbs up or raise her paw to initiate a high five, just don't leave her hanging. 

Squeak or squeal

Jumping and attacking as Quill feels simple and responsive. The controls are limited to just jump and attack but you yourself are also required to reach out into the world with the DualShock 4 and interact with highlighted elements within the world. You'll be opening doors, pulling switches and lifting Quill up to rejuvenate her after a difficult encounter. The controls are fluid and intuitive and there is no learning curve to worry about.

Though most of the challenge in Moss comes from conquering the environmental puzzles, there are enemies in the game which can be defeated with a few simple strikes of your sword and evasive maneuvering. There are a few different enemy types and while I would liked to have seen more, they are fun to attack and counter and they rarely bog down the experience save for a few repetitive waves used as boss-like encounters.

It only took me just over 3 hours to finish Moss but I felt the length was just about right for the story that was being told. Although I would happily play more and the ending of the game even outright promises more to come, I didn't feel short changed. 

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Launch trailer

Verdict
Pros
+ Immersive, beautiful world
+ Charming characters and animation
+ Your presence in VR feels useful and connected
+ Wonderful ambient sound design
+ Your interaction with the world and characters will leave a lasting impact
Cons
- Lacklustre story
- Too few enemy types
- Short length at just over 3 hours
- Little replay value outside collectables
9 Presentation
Moss oozes atmosphere and quality by building a beautiful and cohesive world that feels connected. It's storybook charm will endear and delight and the sense of scale achieved lends itself to the feeling of isolation and splendor
7 Gameplay
With VR interaction that feels important and not gimmicky, the ability to view the world from all angles lends itself to the platforming. Simple controls and intuitive VR interaction makes the relatively simple puzzles easy to understand and the game a joy to play
6 Lasting Appeal
While the story is over all too soon and there is little reason to replay, Moss will leave a lasting impact with its gorgeous design and through your bond with Quill. It is a great showcase for VR and an important landmark title
8.5
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Starting with its world building atmosphere and simple but polished gameplay, the addition of your presence via PlayStation VR takes Moss to the next level. It is an example of how genres can grow and evolve and how our participation as the player can become more personal and connected.
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